Barely twelve (12) hours to the 70th Birthday and exit from the services of University of Lagos of one of Nigeria’s Theatre icon, Professor Duro Oni, staff and students of the Department of Creative Arts came out in their numbers to celebrate him in grand style.
The event tagged “Pre-Pen down Concert for Professor Duro Oni” was held at the Departmental Theatre Hall on Wednesday, December 14, 2022. It featured tributes, poetics, musicals and dance performances by students from both within and outside the University.
The Head of Department, Professor Osita Ezenwanebe, in her welcome address described the celebrant as a Man whose legacy has no blemish. According to her “Professor Oni’s contribution to the field of Theatre Arts in Nigeria is not in dispute. Regrettably, however, this is not often acknowledged – perhaps inevitably, given that he has had to deal with other commitments outside his forte but continues to churn out compelling skills as a game changer in his chosen field of lighting”.
Professor Ezenwanebe further posited that Prof Oni has established his own solid footprints to qualify for mention anywhere and anytime the history of theatre studies in Nigeria is being seriously discussed. Her words, “He was for instance, from the early 80’s one of the very pioneer staff at the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of Lagos, which later metamorphosed into the present Department of Creative Arts in 1997; a degree programme conceived by him and has continued to produce exemplary alumni in their chosen area of arts”.
Amongst performers at the event was Bimbo Alajede, a 65-year-old drummer and percussionist currently studying at the Department, and majoring in Music. Other performers were cultural troupes from the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts (NANTAP), Black Ape, Music Students, J P as well as students of all levels of the Department of Creative Arts, UNILAG, and the Lagos State University, LASU.
The astute scholar who has put in over 45 years at UNILAG was later presented with a plaque for his contribution to the growth of the Arts. Different portraitures of artwork were presented to him by year one undergraduate students of the Visual Arts unit.
Among the dignitaries present at the ‘Pre-Pen Down Concert’ were the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Professor Olufunke Adeboye; Director of the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, Professor Muyiwa Falaiye; first Research Professor at the Institute and the University of Lagos, Professor Ayo Yussuf; Ag.Director, Centre for Industrial Liaison and Placement Unit (CILPU), Dr. Agunsoye; and NANTAP Boss, Mr. Isreal Eboh amongst many others.